Claws out over Animal Rights in West Hollywood
LOS ANGELES The claws are out in Southern California over the rights of cats to keep their nails and dogs to keep their tails and ears intact.
Two years after the liberal city of West Hollywood became the first in the United States to ban the removal of claws on cats, a California veterinary group has filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance.
The California Veterinary Medical Association also wants the Los Angeles Superior Court to declare illegal a proposed ban on tail-docking and ear-cropping in West Hollywood.
"The practice of veterinary medicine should be left to veterinarians with the best interests of the patient and animal owners in mind," CVMA president Jon Klingborg said Tuesday, adding that the only legitimate way to ban the procedure was to go through the California state assembly.
Animal rights activists lobbied for years in favor of the cat declawing ban -- which involves amputation of a cat's toes and tendons -- saying there are kinder ways of stopping cats scratching people and furniture. Declawing, tail-docking and ear-cropping are prohibited in several European countries.
"I think the CVMA should be spending their time on something more constructive when there are so many animal problems, like overpopulation," said Jennifer Conrad, a practicing vet who spearheaded the declawing ban in 2003.
"Fighting for the right to amputate the fingers off cats is really a waste of their money," she said.
West Hollywood Mayor John Duran said the city was leading the way in outlawing animal cruelty and defended the right of the elected city council to enact local laws. In 2002, the city decreed that pet owners should be known as "guardians" and their pets as "companion animals."
Klingborg said the CVMA's lawsuit had nothing to do with its views on so-called cosmetic surgery for pets, adding that the group opposed ear-cropping.
"This is not an issue that has anything to do with whether a procedure is unkind or cruel. The city of West Hollywood is overstepping its bounds. It is taking away a pet owner's freedom to choose how they want their pets cared for," Klingborg said.